Bill Gates: Control-Alt-Delete "was a mistake"

Give us a single button, Gates said. But it wasn't to be.
Harvard/Screenshot by CNET

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has admitted what quite a few Windows users have been thinking for a long time: Control-Alt-Delete is an unnecessary mechanism.

Speaking in a broad interview at Harvard over the weekend, Gates said that the Control-Alt-Delete function, which allows users to log in to Windows and access the task manager was conceived after an IBM keyboard designer wouldn't give him a single button to perform the same chore. It is also the first step in rebooting a computer.

"So we could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn't want to give us our single button," Gates said. "So we had, we programmed at a low level -- it was a mistake."

As big a mistake as it might have been, the function lived on through generation after generation of Windows. This marks the first time that Gates has so forcefully acknowledged that the feature wasn't necessarily the best idea.

The function was created by IBM PC designer David Bradley as a way for computer users to reboot their machines. In an interview with CNET recently, Bradley said he didn't understand why Gates and Microsoft decided to make it a login feature, adding: "I guess it made sense for them."

Watch the conversation in the video below.

This article originally appeared on CNET.

  • Don Reisinger

    Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

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